A Civic Seaside Oasis The city of Del Mar, California, is known for its laid-back charm. Perched on a steep westerly slope of Camino Del Mar, a portion of historic U.S. Highway 101, the Del Mar Civic Center offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. The Civic Center provides an important indoor and outdoor public gathering spaces in a civic heart that fits the spirit of its place.
Expanding the lush and walkable village center south along Camino Del Mar, the building’s ocean view can be seen from well-scaled garden terraces flowing directly into Town Hall and City Hall’s public areas. Del Mar Town Commons and Ocean View Terrace link outdoor spaces designed to accommodate the community’s farmers market. These can be accessed directly by pedestrians arriving from the village center along Camino Del Mar with public parking below and out of sight. An all-season breezeway with large operable doors accommodates covered outdoor gathering or enclosed Town Hall overflow for large events.
Celebrating Del Mar’s Charm The architectural character of the site and buildings is inspired by the Del Mar community, highlighting the human-scaled spaces and textures found in its most well-loved public realm and gardens. An expressed wood structure throughout main public areas is congruous with the Coastal Craftsman style of the Del Mar Library, the historic Powerhouse Park Community Center and St. Peter’s Parish.
Located at the highest corner of the block, Town Hall is capped by an iconic glass and wood cupola supported by a Torrey Pine-inspired truss, forming a gateway beacon from the southern approach to the city. Natural ventilation strategies are employed through the cupola in Town Hall and a clerestory of operable windows in City Hall, taking advantage of the Pacific breezes to reduce energy costs and create a pleasant workspace for visitors and city staff.
A Long Road to Success The 1950s-era school remodeled in 1973 was no longer able to serve the City Hall’s administrative and public gathering needs. Two different proposals for Del Mar Civic Center had been rejected by City Council, one in the mid-1980s and one in 1992. In 2015, a team was selected in to work with the City of Del Mar and design the new Civic Center to include new administration offices, a multi-purpose Town Hall, Del Mar Town Commons, City Hall, Ocean View Terrace, and entry garden, 140 on-site parking spaces and flexible future expansion space.
To kick off the project, the City hosted a meet-and-greet barbeque where the design team asked for input from the people of Del Mar. A series of site concepts were analyzed for neighborhood compatibility, civic character, structural efficiency, public views, residential neighborhood privacy and the location of the public outdoor spaces. In January of 2016, a site concept was approved by City Council. The project was completed in June of 2018.